School’s out, and with more time on their hands, kids have additional opportunities to engage in dangerous behaviors. “Teens are natural risk-takers,” explains Laurie DeLong, Director of the Phoenix House Academy of Austin, “and this tendency is often augmented during the summer months.” The summertime combination of drinking and swimming can lead to tragedy: alcohol use is involved in half of all drowning deaths. So how can parents guide teens through a summer that is safe and fun at the same time? DeLong offers three key tips:
1. Structure. Help teens establish a schedule of activities, from volunteering to working at a summer job.
2. Check-ins. Keep in touch and know what your teen is doing; have him or her call you or a designated adult every couple of hours. That way, you or the adult can hear what’s going on in the background and gauge your teen’s voice tone and speech.
3. Communication. Talk to your kids, even the younger ones, about the implications and consequences of substance use.
By sticking to these guidelines, you can remain vigilant as a parent while helping your kids stay engaged in healthy activities. “Fortunately,” adds DeLong, “summer is also a great opportunity for parents and teens to plan more family time together–to re-focus, renew, and keep the lines of communication open.”